Monday, June 8, 2009

Goats To The Rescue!

Hubby and I have a second home in the Oakland Hills, a condominium with a terrific view of the Bay Area. We lost that home in the firestorm that blew through in 1991. It took three years to replace our home and needless to say we don't want to go through that experience again! Here's where the goat rescuers come in. The powers that be finally got smart and brought in herds of wonderful goats to mow down the underbrush on our hills! Hubby and I adore these little guys and all their antics. And, we sleep a little bit better at night as well!

Our View Of The Bay

To read more about these hardworking goats visit Jennifer Fulton's wonderful blog, "Goats in the Garden." She has a great post about how Google is now using goats in their business, find it here.

Lives Of The Vines 5


Next, berries!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Five Reasons Why I Love The Farmers' Market

1. Eating The Seasons Locally

We are so happy that it’s Farmers’ Market season here in the valley. And, we are so lucky to be here in California to take advantage of all the fabulous produce at our fingertips. In St. Helena, the market season starts on the first Friday in May and runs every Friday through the last week of October. We take advantage of the long season by eating seasonally and locally. All the better for us and the farmers!

2. Capturing the Vibrancy of the Event

I love to take my camera to the farmer’s market to capture the glorious, vibrant colors and textures seen everywhere you look. Piles of peppers, boxes of berries, canisters of cut flowers… it’s almost too much to take in all at once. Our market also has stalls for handmade oil cloth tablecloths and carry bags; gorgeous earrings, necklaces, and bracelets; beautiful stationery and the like.

3. Enjoying the Community of the Marketplace

One cannot go to the market and not run into many friends, neighbors and acquaintances meandering down the long aisle of the marketplace. It is held in a lovely park where there is a fun children’s playground; big round tables with chairs to sit under the trees and enjoy the morning and maybe a pastry and a mocha; bocce ball courts with the attendant teams vying for a win; a performing artist to entertain; and, last but not least, cooking demos by some of the best chefs in the valley.

4. Meeting the Farmers and Learning About Their Products

Okay, so we had never had a fava bean in our lives, but they looked so good in the basket, we finally asked Nancy of Westside Farms what to do with them. She advised that the “latest” is to just throw them on the barbie, cook until they are slightly blistered and then peel away until you get the bean. What a revelation! And so yummy! Every year we look forward to seeing the same folks at our favorite stalls and if, heaven forbid they aren’t there, can’t help wondering why they’re missing. We love to try new products and be able to get the lowdown on how best to use them from those who know best.

5. Taking Advantage of the Incredible Variety of Goods

Naturally, there are abundant varieties of fresh produce at the market. I could try to write a coherent sentence about all the rest, but instead I’m going to just make a long list of what you can find there: fresh seafood; organic local beef; teas specially blended by the proprietor; cheese explained by an expert; honey in every flavor imaginable; homemade jams and jellies in exotic flavors; farm fresh eggs; wonderful homemade Mexican food specialties; expert knife sharpening; orchid purveyor; nursery folk with herbs, tomato plants, flowering plants; locally made olive oils; handmade soaps and cosmetic products; organically and sustainably grown coffee; crafters with clothing, jewelry, knitted goods, artwork.

OMG, it’s a magical wonderland every Friday morning from 7:00 a.m. to noon! And we’ll be there today to enjoy! We are truly blessed.
DEB-Altered Art Papers, Blue Christmas; DMI-Black and Tan, Torn; CBA-Antique Charm; MRE-Treasures; TYO-Wine Cellar; KSC-After Glow; available at

Lauren Reid-Gridlock Taffies; available at

F. Seiford-Purple Heart Embellishment; available at

L. Hughes-Brown Squares Background Paper

Fonts: Palatino Linotype, Scrap Casual, Stencil Standard, Vivaldi

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lives Of The Vines 4

It's mind-boggling to think about how much the vines have grown in a week's time! The canes are almost up to the second wire already. The flower clusters are getting bigger and will be in full bloom any day now. When bloom occurs the vine's male and female parts will self-pollinate the flowers and voila...grapes! Both blocks of vines in the vineyard have been suckered. This year our vineyard manager brought in women workers to do the suckering. Since suckering is not such a difficult job and the wives and family of the male farmworkers can use the work, this has become more of a commonplace practice in this valley. The men are then freed up to take on the heavier jobs. All in all, the vineyard is looking great. Next sulphuring the vines will begin.
Credits: For background paper:, Redemption by IOD, Paper #1

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lives Of The Vines 3

In the vineyard, where the combination of rainfall and 80-degree-plus heat is guaranteed to produce growth that one might swear is actually visible to the casual observer, grape flower clusters are poised to enter the critical period of bloom, during which the size of this year’s crop will be determined. Many of our neighbors have told us that both the size and the number of their clusters seem to be on the high side of normal which is the case in our vineyard as well. Let's hope so after last year's damage from frost. This a photo of what the vineyards looked like on Howell Mountain during the frost last year. Thanks to Jon, our neighbor, for the photo. This week workers will be suckering the vines to remove the vegetative canes with no buds on them to promote growth of the canes with buds.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Smackdown On Main Street In St. Helena

For all of you who don’t know, St. Helena is a small, upscale community at the northern end of the Napa Valley. Many people from there believe it is the very heart of the valley. In St. Helena you will find fine restaurants, chi-chi shops, and artsy galleries. All very fashionable.

The local newspaper, the St. Helena Star, is published every Thursday and contains all the usual articles and then there's the police log...
Last week, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this entry:
1650 - Report of a physical fight between two cooks on Main Street. Officers responded and determined the incident had been "mutual combat" and took a report.
What the ????

This could only happen in the Napa Valley!

Can you imagine any scenarios about why these cooks were duking it out on the sidewalks of this lovely little town?


My chef knife is bigger and sharper than yours!
You put too much damn salt in the damn soup!
My restaurant is bigger and nicer than yours!
My sous chef quit to work for you?!
Each had a little too much of “the sauce”!

I’d love to hear your comments about what you envision these two fools might have been thinking!

Here's what they looked like after they kissed and made up (read sobered up!)

Hope I made you smile this Monday morning...have a great week!

Thanks to the Star

Monday, May 11, 2009

Birds Of A Feather

I created this digital scrapbook layout last year when our Crown Sparrows left to migrate in early May. I took this photograph of one of the birds sitting on a blackberry branch in our garden just before they were gone. Hubby and I love to feed the birds so we can watch them flitting around. We also have swallows, titmice, nuthatches, towies, hummingbirds, crows, redwinged blackbirds, blue jays, geese, ducks, redtailed hawks, herons, cedar waxwings, finches, blue birds, owls...Whew! One time we even saw a golden eagle fly across the vineyard! And, now the sparrows are gone until October.

Credits: C.Renee-Ultimate Art Collection, Meadow Ledger ppr-Recollections, Stamps Window & Clock; Jomi van Bekkum-Unknown Kit, Paper 1; NRJ-In Vogue, Paper 5; K.Christensen-Recollections, Pink Flower Paper; IOD-Inked Edge-Oogelie Boogelie, Tag 2; W&W-Roughing It, Peach Journal; Gypsy Chick-Gypsy Flower Overlays, #5-Scribbly Flowers, #3- Recollections, Silk Flower; RME-Nature, Lace; Linda GB-Frosty & Fabulous, Bow-Designer's Pick, Ribbon & Rose 5; CAH-Festivus, Crown; A.Briggs, Whimsy & Style, Stitching; All products from; Font: Harrington

Lives Of The Vines 2

For the most part, the vineyard is still in the bud break stage. We have two "blocks" of vineyard, the front and back blocks. This picture shows part of the front vineyard and the arrow points to the vine we are following. The back block is almost always ahead of the front block since it is higher in elevation and generally hotter. Some vines in the back are already in the "bloom" stage. When this occurs small flowers appear that will then form into the grapes. This stage in the life of the vine is critical. We can't have any type of inclement weather during this cycle since it would easily ruin the grape crop. Our vine should be in bloom very soon.

Credits: Font = CB Wednesday; Background Digital Paper = Noni Kit by Lie Pfung and available through

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lives Of The Vines

With today's post, I am beginning a new series called the "Lives of the Vines." The idea is to document the growing cycle of our vineyard from bud break to dormancy. Once a week, I plan to photograph the same grapevine to illustrate what's happening in the vineyard. Also, I will give a short summary of the progress being made. To bring you up to speed, the following things have already happened in the vineyard:

  • Cover crop planted between rows
  • Vines Pre-pruned
  • Weed abatement
  • Vines Pruned
  • Cover crop cultivated.

Bud break began around April 15. Now that the tender leaves are sprouting, we hope there will be no more frosty nights. Last year we lost half our crop to frost.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, I hope we can all implement changes that will lessen our impact on our lovely blue planet. Several years ago, there was a challenge on a digital scrapbooking site I frequented to create a layout about Earth Day. The image above is the layout I created in response. Loyal (DH) and I were lucky enough to visit Kona Village on the Big Island several times and just loved it. We enjoyed snorkling in the beautiful bay at the resort and swimming with the sea turtles. At one time, the turtles were disappearing; however, I am happy to report that they are making a great rebound! I took all of the photos of the turtles shown in the layout. The funny looking tracks on the right side were made by a turtle that came up on the beach to rest. I created the Hawaiian looking texture on the top with inks and stamping tools (Clearsnap) on watercolor paper and then scanned it into Photoshop CS3. The map and logos are from memorabilia brought home from our trips and also scanned. Here's hoping the wonderful story of the sea turtles will inspire us all to be kind and gentle when leaving an imprint on our beautiful world.
By the way, did you know that Stampington and Company (Somerset Studio, Take Ten, etc.) has announced that it will release its new magazine, Green Craft Magazine, on August 1, 2009? The theme will be recycled artwork! Also, until April 29th, you can get free shipping and $2.00 off the cover price if you preorder. Happy Earth Day everyone!